Metabasis N. 34
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Biopolitique et imaginaires du pouvoir: regards sur le passé, le présent et l’avenir 2.

Biopolitique et imaginaires du pouvoir: regards sur le passé, le présent et l’avenir 2.

Novembre 2022 - An XVII - Numéro 34

Réflexions politiques

Osservazione, sorveglianza e controllo

Paolo Bellini

DOI: 10.7413/18281567239

La civiltà contemporanea pare ossessionata dalla sorveglianza e dal controllo, attraverso cui sembra apparentemente possibile lenire l’inquietudine di un’era sottoposta a incessanti mutamenti tecnologici e sociali. Sorveglianza e controllo si saldano alla perfezione con la tendenza, già preconizzata da Tocqueville, di indurre i cittadini ad abbandonarsi esclusivamente alla fruizione di piaceri triviali, dove domina quella che Platone ebbe a definire come parte concupiscibile dell’anima.


The obsession with monitoring and control permeating contemporary civilization seems to be motivated by the need to mitigate the uneasiness of a time marked by constant social and technological changes. Surveillance and control fit well into Tocqueville's previously projected propensity to induce individuals to only indulge in the enjoyment of petty pleasures, in which Plato's definition of the concupiscible component of the soul predominates. In this context, the idea of freedom itself suffers from an anomalous compression, which this essay sets out to investigate.

On death in literary studies. Crisis of humanism, a theoretical or a human issue?

Corin Braga

DOI: 10.7413/18281567235

Inter armas silent musae, as the adage goes. It might seem superfluous to speak about humanities and literary studies in a context dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion war in Ukraine. However, these apparently separate domains – theoretical research and daily life – might prove significant at a deeper level, which involves the very understanding of our humanity. So, I would like to address one of the most controversial and hotly debated topics in contemporary literary theory: “death”, in order to question the moral validity of its indiscriminate use on a large scale.


One of the most controversial and hotly debated concepts in contemporary literary theory is that of “crisis.” Philosophers and theorists speak about the “death of the author,” the “death of literature,” post-humanism and trans-humanism (which also imply, in a way, the “death of man”), and so on. However, these “alarmist” claims seem to point to internal changes and evolutions of paradigms and models rather than to the actual ends of domains and concepts. Moreover, they are also successful devices for drawing public attention and critical acclaim, for conferring prestige to their proponents. Engaging with Theodor Adorno’s dictum that “to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric,” my point is that the latest global calamities of the pandemic and of the war in Ukraine demand a more moral use of the term “death.” The metaphorical and abstract grand-narrative of the “end of man” fades away when we are confronted with the tragic and concrete realities of people suffering and dying in horrible conditions. Without ignoring the failures of anthropocentrism and the valid criticisms concerning the attitude and position of the human species within the planetary ecosystem, this paper engages with the possibility of ideologically-driven ethics giving way to a “humanism” tout court (not new-, not after‑, not non-humanism), predicated on the imperative of caring about actual individuals in pain.

Corpo-macchina e corpo vitalista. Riflessioni sull’immaginario collettivo occidentale.

Alessandra Micol Caprioli

DOI: 10.7413/18281567240

Il contributo intende riflettere sulla questione filosofico-politica della corporeità a partire dagli sviluppi più recenti sul tema condotti dagli Studi sull’Immaginario collettivo occidentale. A questo proposito, si rendono necessarie due considerazioni preliminari. Da una parte, si tratta infatti del supporto di continui scambi e corrispondenze simboliche tra diversi codici, che in esso si inscrivono e si decostruiscono, producendo un’incessante liberazione di significati fluttuanti. Dall’altra parte, il tema della corporeità è anche una questione di carattere epocale, che quindi richiede di essere fissato e analizzato come un elemento sempre situato e radicato in un preciso momento spazio-temporale.


Starting from the two great philosophical traditions on the theme of the body, the one of the Körper and the one of the Leib, which face the innovations introduced by the contemporary biotechnological knowledge, the paradigms of the machine-body and the vitalist body develop within the Western collective imaginary. This contribution aims to clarify the symbolic features that distinguish both archetypes and, in the light of the syncretism to which they give rise, to highlight any possible points of contact between two models of the body, generally thought as divergent, from a philosophical-political point of view.

Marc Bloch’s Rois thaumaturges and consensus building in the Middle ages: at the roots of the legitimacy of power

Andrea Germani

DOI: 10.7413/18281567234

Tuberculous cervical lymphadenitis, commonly known for centuries as scrofula, was a major issue for people living in the countryside. It provided a marker for tuberculosis due to its visible manifestation: «unilateral enlargement of rubbery cervical lymph nodes, with and without accompanying ulceration and sinus tract formation». In medieval Europe, the disease was known as the Royal Disease or King’s Disease, or, in French-speaking Europe, as the Mal du Roi.


In his work written in 1924 Les rois thaumaturges, Marc Bloch highlighted an important issue that contributes to our understanding of power and royalty in the Middle Ages. Scholars have been deepening research in the field since then, looking for the reasons behind the “royal touch” and for an eventual quest for legitimacy for those kings who strive to see their authority recognized. Should we reduce the touch to a mere strategy to gain consensus? Or should we look for deeper reasons by “questioning” the kings and their hypothetical belief in touch, along with the trust in their healing powers? It must be acknowledged that subjects were loyal to the body of the king first, and the body was the very center of the political realm throughout the Middle Ages. In this paper we are going to try to look for a different path analyzing Bloch’s findings and proposing research questions that should be taken into consideration in both studies on royalty in the Middle Ages, and on the origins of the legitimization of power.

Biopolitica e inclusione: la prospettiva del “Universal design for learning”.

Nicoletta Guatelli

DOI: 10.7413/18281567226

La società attuale è permeata da una costante spinta verso la prestazione, la competizione e l’ottimizzazione; in tale contesto, la diversità di apprendimento, di fare e di essere incide profondamente sulla vita scolastica e personale dello studente. I persistenti fallimenti scolastici dei soggetti “in difficoltà” possono trasformarsi in esperienze traumatiche: un evento fallimentare continuo, ripetitivo e non adeguatamente elaborato tende a corroborare un'immagine e una percezione del Sé negative, parallelamente a incrinare l'equilibro narcisistico tipico di ogni individuo.


Universal Design for Learning (UDL) represents an avant-garde conceptual and operational model to universally guarantee the right to a fully inclusive education system. In the context of education, for an effective full inclusion in school, both a theoretical and methodological change of perspective in approaching the issues of diversity and individual capacity are mandatory. From the confrontation with diversity – diversities – arise paradigms of political action (segregation, separation / integration and inclusion) which are declinable according to each type of diversity, with consequent implications regarding the protection of the fundamental individual rights, despite their disadvantage or diversity in relation to the so-called normality. School must support each student in his/her overall growing process and must offer the same services to each one according to personal needs. Besides mobilizing the educational potential of families and  communities – which is above all an action of social justice – is the prerequisite for a truly inclusive education system.

L’invenzione della biodiversità: una natura da gestire, sorvegliare, proteggere.

Federica Riva

DOI: 10.7413/18281567231

“Biodiversità” è un termine che è entrato a far parte del linguaggio mediatico e quotidiano, dell’attivismo ambientale così come della politica, diffondendosi in poco tempo con più irruenza di qualsiasi specie invasiva. È un neologismo tanto giovane quanto efficace che si è insinuato con naturalezza dalla politica al senso e linguaggio comuni, influenzando profondamente e in breve tempo, il nostro sguardo sulla natura.


“Biodiversity” is a neologism that has born in the late ‘80s from the interconnection between biological science and politics of environmental conservation and that has quickly spread to everyday language becoming a socially powerful concept. Referring to Foucaultian notions of “dispositive” and “biopolitics”, I analyse how the idea of biodiversity has worked in order to change the collective imaginary about nature and the perception of humans’ role in it.

L’épidémie Covid-19, une nouvelle étape des politiques de la vie.

Jean-Jacques Wunenburger

DOI: 10.7413/18281567225

Tout être vivant est soumis aux variations du normal et du pathologique. La communauté des vivants comme personnes humaines a inventé la médecine, comme ensemble de techniques de guérison, mutualisées, réciproques, entre individus libres (soigné–soignant), inspirés par la bienfaisance, la compassion, l’altruisme. Mais qu’advient-il lorsque la communauté sociale vulnérable aux maladies invente une nouvelle organisation, l’Etat, l’instance du politique, qui met en rapport des individus devenus citoyens sous l’autorité d’un gouvernement.


The question of biopower, brought up by Michel Foucault, does not only concern a historical stage in the development of neo-liberal political rationality, but concerns the very question of the essence of politics, which has generated various responses since Greek thought. The laws underpinning the Kallipolis, outlined by Plato, in fact represent an early biopolitical model, which extends and develops in modernity, enshrining the priority of public health and consequently implementing an ever tighter politicisation of life. The handling of the Covid-19 epidemic in Europe and around the world opens up a new picture of biopower, fostered by the current socio-economic conditions, which reveals in democratic societies an ultimate transformation of public health and medical anthropology with unexpected outcomes.

Horizons philosophiques

Gandhi’s non-violence: a concept with a variable geometry.

Claudio Giulio Anta

DOI: 10.7413/18281567236

The ethical-political ideas of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) have been interpreted in very different ways, beginning from the end of the 1930s. In particular, pacifist thinking has generally identified the concept of ahimsa (non-violence) as a sort of panacea. However, we must emphasise that although he morally condemned violence, Gandhi supported war on several occasions: in 1899 he took part in the Boer War alongside the English and in 1906 participated in an action aimed at quelling the Zulu revolt in Natal. Moreover, at two different times during the First World War he urged his fellow countrymen to enlist in support of the King’s Army.


Pacifist thinking has generally identified the concept of ahimsa (non-violence) as a sort of panacea. However, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi supported war on several occasions, although he morally condemned violence: indeed, in 1899 he took part in the Boer War alongside the English and in 1906 participated in an action aimed at quelling the Zulu revolt in Natal. Moreover, at two different times during the First World War when, in 1914 and in 1918, respectively, he was in England and in India, he urged his fellow countrymen to enlist in support of the King’s Army. The article examines the grounds on which Gandhi rejected the use of violence a priori, comparing them with those used to justify support for war; just think about the difference, in his thinking, between ‘non-violence as a creed’ and ‘non-violence as a policy’. Despite his extraordinary humanitarian inspiration, Gandhi was also a skilful politician capable of understanding, and taking advantage of, favourable opportunities for his people. From the 1960s, the theme of non-violence would be explored in depth by prestigious intellectuals such as Herbert Marcuse, Frantz Fanon, Keith Hancock and Malcolm X, who highlighted above all the weak points and, sometimes, the ineffectiveness of ahimsa.

Intimità e distanza fra gli individui. La sistematica dei doveri nel giacobinismo filosofico di Johann Adam Bergk.

Vanda Fiorillo

DOI: 10.7413/18281567238

In queste pagine si intende analizzare la sistematica dei doveri, che caratterizza l’illuminismo radical-democratico del critico di Kant, Johann Adam Bergk. La teoria bergkiana dei doveri – che costituisce, peraltro, uno dei rari esempi sistematici di giacobinismo filosofico – nasce, più in particolare, nel clima della cultura unpolitisch, proprio dello Pflichtenstaat o Stato fondato sui doveri, il quale rappresentò il modello di organizzazione socio-‘politica’ tipico della Germania illuministica. In tale modello il rapporto politico governanti-governati si basava sulla correlazione fra il dovere dello Stato di applicare la giustizia ed il dovere di obbedienza del cittadino, mentre il rapporto civile si poggiava sul vicendevole adempimento dei doveri sociali (logicamente negativi) del neminem laedere, i quali prescrivevano il rispetto dei diritti del concittadino.


The theory of duties by Johann Adam Bergk, Kant’s Jacobin critic, arises within the “unpolitish” culture of the German Enlightment. Within this framework, the aim of this study is to analyze, more specifically, Bergk’s bipartition of duties in obligations to oneself and obligations to others, that he elaborates, referring to the analogous division we find in Kant’s “Metaphysics of Morals” and modifying it.

Power, authority, and the future of mankind rereading William Golding’s Lord of the flies.

Michele Olzi

DOI: 10.7413/18281567237

Certain literary genres have a peculiar relationship with politics (and political theory). Although dystopian fictions developed their most recent form at the beginning of the twentieth century, the early use of the term “dystopian” was reported in the political field long before the outburst of dystopian fiction. The English philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806–1873) coined the term in a Commons debate on Irish Land Tithes in 1868.


This paper aims to consider a series of politico-symbolic aspects in a specific politicized dystopia of the twentieth century: Lord of the Flies (1954) by William Golding (1911–1993). This analysis is paired with a brief overview of the relationship between utopian fictions and politics.

Platone bandiva Omero dalla sua repubblica e noi tollereremo Molière nella nostra? La funzione del teatro nella teoria politica di Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Luca Daris

DOI: 10.7413/18281567241

La Lettera sugli Spettacoli, scritta nel 1758 come risposta all’articolo Ginevra apparso nell’Encyclopedie, presenta innumerevoli motivi di interesse che non si esauriscono certamente nella semplice analisi di una forma artistica, seppur privilegiata, come il teatro. Nel lungo testo Rousseau espone, con fervore e chiarezza, le sue radicate convinzioni su come debba essere strutturata una società politica.


The purpose of the contribution is to highlight the relevance the “The Letter on spectacles” which was written in response to the Geneva entry in the Encyclopedie and to contextualize it within the political theory of Jean Jacques Rousseau. The extreme importance of the Letter also lies in the accurate analysis proposed by the Genevan on the different specificities of comedy and tragedy but, above all, in the political results that such evaluations produce on the construction of a new community. In line with what was previously argued in the two Speeches and in preparation for the theories of Emilio and the Contract, the role of the state in the organization and control of intellectual property and leisure becomes central even at the risk of jeopardizing its artistic independence.

La prospettiva giuspersonalista come limite simbolico-politico dell’autorità

Giuseppe Maria Ambrosio

DOI: 10.7413/18281567242

In questo breve lavoro vorremmo riprendere un tema a noi caro, quello del rapporto tra il diritto e la forza, così come sviluppato nella prospettiva “giuspersonalista” di Giuseppe Limone. Un rapporto che dischiude a sua volta, come è facile intuire, complesse problematiche sul piano giuridico e politico. Innanzitutto, secondo Limone la forza può essere innanzitutto distinta in forza come evento (i cui effetti si depongono nel mondo della natura) e forza come atto (la quale si impone quale attività pratica). Nel primo caso la forza si impone in virtù di una superiorità fisica, attraverso un processo unilaterale e non bisognevole di alcun riconoscimento; nel secondo la forza deve incrociarsi alla volontà di un corpo sociale che ne riconosce l’autorità attraverso l’obbedienza.


The article focuses on some analytical profiles concerning difference between the terms of “power” and “authority” as outlined by the Neapolitan philosopher Giuseppe Limone, focusing on the symbolic implications of the relationship between political power and legal right(s). Limone’s theories are also compared with those of some well-known authors (Hart, Kelsen, Rousseau, Dworkin) in order to brief-ly outline theoretical differences and similarities between juspersonalism and legal positivism; the sixth and final paragraph draws a possible operational – namely from a legal standpoint – implementation of personalism, here conceived as a hermeneutical tool, in order to ensure the protection of fundamental rights as stated in different sources of international and supranational Law.

Metabasis N. 34
édition numérique

peer review

Chaque essai de la revue est évalué par deux referees anonymes et leurs observations envoyées à l’auteur.

Fiche d’évaluation

Critères éditoriaux